Circe | At a Glance
Author: Madeline Miller
Publisher: April 10th 2018 by Lee Boudreaux Books
Genre: Fantasy, Mythology, Fiction, Historical Fiction
Goodreads Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars
To start, the April choices for Book of the Month, all seemed phenomenal, thus I had a extremely difficult time choosing just one book to read. The April picks included:
Then She was Gone by Lisa Jewell
Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall
The Oracle Year by Charles Soule
The Girl who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya
Circe by Madeline Miller
Each of these options held some great possibilities, and narrowing down my pick, as I mentioned was tough. Since I had recently read some fairly good thrillers and mysteries, I decided to switch my genre a bit and ended up picking (if you couldn’t tell) Circe by Madeline Miller. Truth be told while I choose Circe, since they all sounded so appealing, I may have purchased the rest of these books to also read, so be on the look out for some of those reviews!
Now before I jump into a summary of this book, it’s important to note that this is a retelling of a piece of greek mythology. From my limited knowledge and a bit of research after reading this book, Miller keeps a fair amount of the book in line with the namesake’s mythology. However, this definitely reads as a historical fiction, so not everything is exactly as Greek Mythology may suggest. Which personally, I think adds a bit of flair to the story, not that Greek Mythology was boring in any way.
Born to Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, Circe is a strange goddess. No god would call her beautiful or enticing. No god would consider her powerful or exactly special in anyway. Left to perform the role of outcast, Circe spends the first years of her life feeling invisible and along. Leaving the world of gods for the world of mortals, Circe befriends a mortal man, who alone believes her to be worthy of the title goddess. In an effort to avoid spending her immortally alone, she discovers she possess the power of witchcraft. She is a master at transformation.
Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island. It is here, on her deserted island all alone, where she learns to develop and hone her powers. It is also here where she encounters many of the most famous figures in mythology. These figures are some of the most recognizable names in Greek Mythology and it is with the unique perspective Madeline Miller gives us, that we can see how some of these names came to be and who they were outside of their myths and legends.
But this story is not about the big names in Greek Mythology. This story is about little known Circe, and it is her story we follow. We see her struggles at finding her place in the world. We see her heartbreaks and her tears from sorrow. We celebrate her happiness. And we watch her as she fights her greatest fight, to protect what she loves, from the god amongst the gods, Zeus.
“It is a common saying that women are delicate creatures—flowers, eggs, anything that may be crushed in a moment’s carelessness. If I had ever believed it, I no longer did..”
Before I jump into my thoughts, it’s important to note that this is Madeline Miller’s sequel to The Song of Achilles, which you can bet your pretty face that I ordered from Amazon as soon as I finished reading Circe. I would highly recommend this book to any person (male or female) who enjoys Greek Mythology. I would actually highly recommend this book to any person who enjoys reading anything that is well written. So let’s break down why this book is just a phenomenal read:
- I have always enjoyed Greek Mythology. I love reading all of the drama. And let’s be honest, the Greek gods were all just running around having melt downs about nothing and creating drama where there was none. When I decided on this book, I did think there would be more focus on some of the more popular folks (think Medus, Zeus, Hera, and Odysseus) but I’m glad I was wrong. This book is entirely through the eyes of Circe, who within the myths, is a goddess of sorcery and was skilled in magic of transmutation, illusion, and necromancy. Homer even makes a passing reference to her as a goddess with braided hair, with human speech and with strange powers. In this book, we experience Circe’s coming of age. We get to hear her doubts, her struggles, her joys, and her greatest fears. And for Miller to let us into a goddess’ head to see these flaws and weakness, the same flaws and weakness’ that mere humans have, is a treat. This alone makes this book worth reading.
- While this book is mainly about a mythical goddess, Miller is still able to tie the story to real life experiences. She touches upon the difficulties women tend to face, especially when they are alone, singled out, and/or considered to be a threat. From the very start, we see that Circe is different from not just her fellow gods but also from mortals. She is continuously told she is useless, but it’s evident to the reader from the very beginning that she is so much more than what her peers see. We quickly find out that she is clever, strong, and a force to be reckoned with in every way. This makes me love the character of Circe, even with her flaws.
- There are some tough conversations and events that occur in this book, such as rape, murder, and torture. However, Miller does not graphically depict these actions. Instead of simply showing the reader, Miller uses the emotions of Circe to make readers feel the impact of these actions. Thus, while these could be triggers for some folks, they’re not exactly graphic. And if you think about Greek Mythology as a whole, you’d be hard pressed to find any sort of mythology that doesn’t hit on at least one of those triggers.
- This is not a happy story. Nor is it a sad story. The narrative for this book, minus the whole powerful sorcerrer and goddess piece, could easier be switched to any single person’s coming of age story. It’s realistic with it’s life standards. From my perspective, I can relate to the feelings of loneliness , which I know everyone goes through at some point in their life. I can also relate to the struggle of finding yourself, and the mental toll that can take. I love that Miller has capture all of these emotions that modern society feels, all while staying in theme with mythology. It makes you realize how not so different modern society probably is from our predeccessors.
- I had some mixed emotions around the ending for quite a while. No spoilers here! I’m not saying every story has to have a happy ending, but because Circe is immortal we don’t really get any closure. Which in the grand scheme of things, and after some though, I can live with.
- One of the main themes of the book is motherhood, which is depicted between Circe and her first born. While it’s hard for me to currently relate to, as I don’t have kids, I have seen reviews from a number of other readers that emphasis how much they love the depiction and accurate representations they see. Whether it was relating to Circe’s fears, thoughts, and/or actions; other readers felt aligned and as if Miller had read their minds. But like I said, I can’t really comment on this fact as I have never been in this position. Any mother’s out there, feel free to pick this book up and send me your comments on this view. I’d love to hear your opinion on it!
The verdict is, that you should read this book. Do it. Now. Here’s a link to order the book so you don’t forget. But just read it. You won’t regret it. Or maybe you will regret it, and in that case come back here and comment on why you hated it, I’d love to know why.
WHAT IS BOOK OF THE MONTH?
For those who haven’t heard of Book of the Month club or BOTM, it is a subscription program, similar to audible or other box subscription services, where you get (you guessed it) a new book every month. Each month members are given 5 different books to choose from. BOTM generally focusing on debut and emerging writers, and is known for having helped launch the careers of some of the most acclaimed authors in American literary history. In an attempt to read more books outside my favorite genres without having to siphon through all the duds, I decided to sign up for the monthly subscriptions. It costs me $14.99 per month, I choose 1 of the 5 books on the first of every month, and it’s delivered straight to my door. You can skip any month or roll your credits over to the next month, at any time. Since I started getting BOTM back in February, I’ve really enjoyed some of the new authors I’ve been exposed to. I’ve enjoyed them so much, that I have decided to review each of the books I get every month. If you’re interested in joining BOTM, I’ve add my referral code to the bottom of this post, which if you use, you’ll be able to get your first month (book) free!
Interested in joining Book of the Month? Get a free book when you join using my referral link.